MCDONOUGH — If you see something or hear something, say something.
The Henry County school district is impressing this idea upon students. It’s one way the administration is working to protect students while in the classroom.
“Children should feel safe while in school and have a trusted adult they can talk to,” said Kirk Shrum, chief school leadership officer.
Shrum said “student connectivity and belief in student capability” is one way the district will continue to provide a safe learning environment.
Building on student relationships, the HCS administration is implementing several ways to help keep students safe in the classroom.
The district has reconfigured the entrances to all elementary, middle and high schools. When visitors arrive at the school, they enter into a set of double doors. A second set of doors is locked and the only way to enter is through the front office. This keeps anyone from entering the building without being seen by office staff.
In the office, visitors are required to sign in via a Checkmate program which prints out a name tag. The visitor pass signifies to others they’re authorized to be in the school building. All staff are also required wear their school-issued photo ID.
Additionally, all classroom doors remain locked during instruction time and school exterior doors are locked throughout the day.
All schools are equipped with two-way radios for direct and immediate communication with staff at the central office.
At the new McDonough Middle School and McDonough High School, a front door buzzer with a camera is being tested. Visitors must be buzzed into the school. Those in the front offices can communicate via the camera to identify visitors before letting them into the building. Staff members are supplied with a key card to enter the building.
At three other schools, the district is piloting a safety system with Centegix, a company that provides Crisis Alert and Classroom Video for the purpose of security. Shrum said it uses visual and sound cues to issue an alert. A fob, similar to a key fob, allows users, through a series of clicks, to communicate in the event of an alert.
Shrum said the district will evaluate the system through the fall to decide whether to implement it in other schools. The total cost to test the program is $90,000 — $30,000 per school.
Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis said with the start of the new school year, safety is top of mind for families.
“We want them to have a level of awareness,” she said. “We know that this is not a project we will complete and we will continue to advance our work in this area.”
To aid students to say something when they see something, the district offers a safe schools hotline at 1-877-729-7867.
Students can report things like drugs, weapons, bullying, threats and safety issues anonymously and confidentially.